Step 6: Report Writing & Advocacy

The final stage of the monitoring process involves using the evidence you have gathered to draft a report.

This step will guide you through the essential elements of writing a report, including: advice on structure, presentation and what to include, and finally theadvocacy strategies you should consider in order to effect change.

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6.1 Draft report

The final stage of the monitoring process involves the preparation of a report, which should present your findings, conclusions and recommendations.


The content and structure of the report will depend on your advocacy objectives and the audience you are trying to reach. However, certain elements are crucial,including:

 1. Introduction 

The introduction should make a concise presentation of your organisation and the goal(s) of the report. You should explain what motivated you to undertake this monitoring exercise, the subject of the report, the time period it was conducted over, the sample used, and who carried it out. The introduction should familiarise the reader with the study´s primary conclusions. If it is well written, the introduction will attract readers´ attention and encourage them to read the rest of the report.

 2. Methods

This section should include details about the research methods you used. For instance, you could provide information about the main data sources you used and whether you relied primarily on official data sources or conducted your own data gathering, in which case you should specify the methods you used. If you conducted interviews with children, parents, teachers or otherstakeholders, you should provide details about the number of people interviewed, the types of questions asked, etc. You should also acknowledge methodological limitations, for example if data was unavailable.

 3. Findings

This section constitutes the main body of the report. Findings should be presented in a clear and succinct manner. You should present the evidence you gathered related to unequal enjoyment of the right to education (reflected in the data you gathered onoutcome indicators) as well as on the shortcomings you found in education policies, whether these policies were affected by resource constraints, and the processes through which these policies were formulated and implemented. This section should include an analysis of all the evidence you have gathered, explaining the ways in which that evidence reflects problems in terms of the right to education. See below for effective ways of communicating your findings.

 4. Conclusions 

See below.

 5. Recommendations

See below.

 6. Appendices and glossary

If you use technical terms in the report, you may want to include a glossary. Likewise, an acronyms list.

Adapt the report to your audience

Sometimes you may need to adapt the structure of the report for specific purposes. For instance, the structure of ashadow report to aUN treaty body would usually follow the structure of the corresponding government report, which in turn will typically be structured around each of the articles of the treaty in question.

Guidelines / tips

When drafting the report, you should follow some basic guidelines:

Ensure accuracy and credibility

The effectiveness of your whole monitoring exercise hinges on the quality of the evidence on which it is based. That is why it is socrucial to ensure that the evidence is accurate and your analysis rigorous and methodologically sound. Bear in mind that the institutions you criticise in your report (the Ministry of Education, the government, etc) may try to discredit your findings. So any inaccuracy in the data or unfounded conclusions could seriously undermine your credibility and the credibility of your report.

Consider the tone and language of the report

Make sure that evidence is presented in a clear and concise manner and that thelanguage and tone are not off-putting.

Ground your analysis in human rights standards

All monitoring exercises on the right to education should be grounded on the normative framework of international human rights law to which governments around the world have voluntarily committed themselves. Therefore, the report should make explicit reference to thehuman rights standards relevant to the findings of the report.

Make your report advocacy-oriented

When writing the report, think through how to present the findings in a way thatmaximises its advocacy potential. Your report should effectively communicate the data you have collected, make clear conclusions that articulate the main messages you are trying to communicate and make concrete and action-oriented recommendations.

How to communicate your collected data effectively

The way you convey the evidence you gathered during the monitoring process is crucial for effective advocacy. Even the most robust findings may fail to reach policy-makers if they are not well presented.

Most likely during the monitoring process, you will have gathered a large amount of data. You should refrain from including all that data in the report, as large amounts of information is overwhelming for the reader and dilutes your key message(s).

In your report, you should include data that supports your main findings. You will also need to determine the level of technical specificity. Once you have decided which data to include, you should then think through how to convey that data. Generally speaking, while tables allow for the efficient presentation of a large amount of data in an organised manner, graphs and info graphics are often a more compelling way of communicating information to various stakeholders.

One great tool is UNESCO’sWorld Inequality Database on Education (WIDE), which can help you present inequalities in education in a unique, and engaging way, as illustratedhere. Users of this database can create maps, charts, infographics and tables from the data, and download, print or share them online. You may wish to consider using other data visualisation tools.

Education Report Cards, as used, for instance byPREAL, are another useful and eye catching advocacy tool used to present information on the performance of an education system in a format that is understandable to non-specialised audiences.

When presenting information about violations of the right to education you should contrast the data you have gathered with the legal commitments that the State has undertaken (nationally or internationally) or with the promises that the government has explicitly made to its citizens, as illustratedhere.

Draw conclusions

Based on the evidence you have gathered throughout the monitoring process, you can draw conclusions regarding a State’s compliance with its obligations and possible violations of the right to education.

Your conclusions should not just be a summary of the findings of your monitoring effort. Rather, you should use your findings as a basis for clearly and compellingly making a case that the State (or otherduty-bearers) is or has violated the right to education.

To begin writing the conclusions, you could make a preliminary list of conclusions and for each one of them write the supportive findings:

1. Conclusion #1
a. Finding #1a
b. Finding #1b
2. Conclusion #2
a. Finding #2a
b. Finding #2b

When writing your report, you will probably not present the conclusions in this manner, but this preliminary step will help to ensure that your conclusions are adequately backed up by evidence.

Based on the normative human rights framework, you may also specify whether the problems you found are related to thelack of necessary laws or policies,the inadequacy of those laws or policies and / or the lack of implementation of those policies.

You may limit your conclusions to the specific issues on the right to education that you have monitored, or you may also draw some conclusions from your monitoring exercise on moresystemic issues.

Make recommendations

Without specific, concrete and actionable recommendations, there is little chance that your monitoring initiative will have concrete effects on policies and practices related to the right to education.

The recommendations should be based on an analysis of the shortfalls you found throughout the monitoring process with regards to the State’s obligations on the right to education.

When making recommendations based on your findings and conclusions, you should take into account that according to international human rights law, States enjoy a wide margin of discretion in selecting the means for implementing their obligations pertaining to the right to education. Therefore, it is necessary to draw a balance between making concrete recommendations (that could be actually implemented by the State) and not making them too specific, so that the State can determine which specific measures to adopt in order to fulfil its obligations regarding the right to education.

In most cases, you would address most of your recommendations to the State, which bears primary responsibility for the protection and fulfilment of the right to education. However, you may also make recommendations to other duty-bearers that have responsibility for an aspect of education policy (eg local governments), other State actors that can have an influence on education policies and practices (eg the judiciary) or other actors with influence (eg international financial institutions).

You may want to formulate both immediate recommendations that are easy to implement, as well as longer-term recommendations that address more systemic problems. For guidance, you can use thistool developed by CAFOD.

6.2 Follow-up action

The main purpose of monitoring is to hold States accountable for their actions related to the right to education. Therefore, writing a human rights report should not be the end-goal of the monitoring exercise, but rather the springboard for effectiveadvocacy.

As a rule, the overall goal of your advocacy activities related to a monitoring exercise is to influence policy-makers to adopt the recommendations you set out in your report. Governments often have a whole set of political, economic and other interests that influence the extent to which they may be willing to adopt the necessary policies to implement the right to education. Therefore, typically, it will not be sufficient to apprise decision-makers of your findings and make your recommendations for them to adopt them. Rather, you need to think about what leverage you have and how you can put pressure on relevant decision-makers to adopt your recommendations regarding the right to education.

Types of advocacy strategies

There are many strategies that you could use to advance your advocacy goals. These include:

Report to human rights mechanisms

There are various human rights mechanisms at the national,regional and international level that monitor the implementation of the right to education and could be used to report violations of the right to education or gaps in implementation. For information on how to report to international human rights mechanisms related to the right to education (UN treaty bodies, the Human Rights Council, UN Special Rapporteurs, UNESCO Committee on Conventions and Recommendations) as well as to regional and national human rights mechanisms, seehere.

Create partnerships

To strengthen your leverage in your advocacy efforts, you may want to join forces with other individuals and organisations that share your concerns regarding the right to education and want to promote similar recommendations. There arevarious types of partners that you may consider teaming up with for your advocacy efforts. In selecting them you should take into account how they can complement the skills, resources, contacts and experience of your own group; the political context around the issues you are trying to promote; and the objectives you are trying to achieve.

Use the courts

There are judicial and quasi-judicial mechanisms to litigate on the right to education at national, regional and national level. To explore issues surrounding the decision to take this course of action in a case related to the right to education, seehere.

Work withparliamentarians

Parliamentarians can be particularly useful allies for promoting your advocacy goals. Typically, parliamentarians have little time for research and may appreciate receiving well-researched information from civil society organisations. This could help them to develop appropriate policies and to hold governments to account for implementing them. You may consider holding meetings with relevant parliamentary committees (eg the education or the human rights committees, etc) to present your findings as well as working with individual parliamentarians who support your advocacy messages, so that they use their leverage to put pressure on policy-makers.

Work with the media

Using the media effectively to convey your findings and recommendations is a key ingredient to any advocacy effort. Working with the media can help you reach out to many people in order to:

  • Raise awareness of the issue you have identified and how it affects people.

  • Show them that there is a way of dealing with the issue.

  • Enlist them to put pressure on the government to adopt your recommendations.

Somegeneral rules may help you to work effectively with the media. There are various types of media, including TV, radio, newspapers, Internet, etc. When selecting which to use, you should consider the relativeadvantages and disadvantages of each of these forms.

Bear in mind that you may need to adapt the content of your monitoring report for implementing each of these strategies. For instance, if you are submitting ashadow report to aUN human rights treaty body you will need to focus on those aspects of your monitoring initiative and recommendations related to the mandate of the treaty body and explicitly link your concerns with thehuman rights standards related to the corresponding convention. If, on the other hand, you plan to start a public campaign or to reach out to the media, you will need to summarise your findings in a succinct and attractive manner, so as to draw the attention of the public and journalists. In short, you should consider thevarious ways in which to spread your advocacy message.

Criteria for selecting advocacy strategies

To select the most appropriate strategies to promote your advocacy efforts, you should take into account anumber of factors:

Who you are

The identity, public standing, skills, experience and resources of your group will influence which strategies you adopt. For instance, if you are a local NGO with very limited resources, you probably will not be able to undertake a large nation-wide advocacy campaign, unless you collaborate closely with other groups that have greater resources and experience working at that level.

Who are the stakeholders?

There are probably many different individuals, organisations, departments and institutions that have a stake (either directly or indirectly) in the change you hope to bring about. Amongst all these stakeholders, there are likely to be some who approve of the change you want, others who oppose it and some who do not have strong feelings either way. To determine which strategies to adopt, you will need to take into account who your potential allies and opponents are, what their interests and motivations are regarding the issues you are promoting, and what power they have.

Timing of your advocacy efforts

The adoption of some strategies may be tied to particular events taking place at a specific time. For instance, if a UN treaty body will be discussing your country’s compliance with a human rights treaty that is relevant to the issues you are raising you may decide to produce a shadow report based on the monitoring report you have produced.




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